The strong monsoon has dealt a huge blow to the work taken up by Kerala Water Authority (KWA), with the regular showers stalling work on a Rs.50-crore project to replace the 1,200-mm pre-stressed concrete (PSC) transmission mainline from Aruvikkara to Peroorkada with mild steel (MS) pipes for the last three weeks.

A senior KWA official said work was completed on 3,600 m out of a total length of about 9,700 m when the rain struck. The project to replace the 15-year-old PSC pipe, which has been bursting quite frequently, with MS pipes from Aruvikkara to the Peroorkada interconnection point via Aruvikkara-Irumba-Kalathukal-Kachani-Mukkola-Vazhayila-Peroorkada, had begun on January 21. The Aruvikkara-Irumba leg of about 2,400 m was completed with just the work on installing valve chambers remaining, he said. The Irumba-Mukkola leg could be launched only when the rain stopped, the official said, pointing out that work had been stalled at a crucial point near Vazhayila, where the pipe would have to be taken through a culvert across the Vazhayila-Peroorkada road.

The pipeline, which is crucial for the drinking water supply system of the KWA for about 4.8 lakh people in the Thiruvananthapuram Corporation limits, was expected to be replaced with by the end of June, as announced by Water Resources Minister P.J. Joseph during an inspection of the work in March. However, officials had then maintained that the work, given practical difficulties and the mammoth task at hand, might be completed only by August or September. Now, with almost a month to be lost due to the rains, even that deadline looks unachievable.

“Work was progressing at a real fast pace, and we were hopeful of finishing it before September. However, with the rain now stalling work completely for nearly three weeks, it looks like the project might take much longer,” the official said, pointing out that the MS pipes weighted up to five to six tonnes and laying them into the trenches itself was a time-consuming process.

The project had hit roadblocks earlier too, when issues cropped between the KWA and the Kerala Road Fund Board over digging up of newly laid roads for the pipeline. These issues were sorted out and work had picked up pace towards the end of March.